Over the next two weeks, a San Diego court will decide whether Apple Inc. infringed three of Qualcomm Inc.’s patents.
The case, one of many in the longstanding battle over patent licensing between the two tech giants, went to trial on March 4 at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) alleges that Apple infringed three of its patents related to power-saving technology in its iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X devices that use Intel’s modems. Apple had exclusively used Qualcomm’s baseband processors for a few years, until the release of the iPhone 7, when it began implementing Intel’s processors in its phones.
According to a pre-trial brief, Qualcomm is seeking damages based on a “reasonable royalty” of between 42 cents and 55 cents per unit. The total number of affected devices was redacted from court documents.
Apple argued in its pre-trial brief that it did not violate Qualcomm’s patents, and that the patent claims in question were invalid.
Qualcomm’s claims against Apple are tied to another important case the chipmaker filed with the International Trade Commission. In September, Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender found Apple violated one of Qualcomm’s patents for “power-saving techniques in computing devices” — which is also one of the patents mentioned in the San Diego case.
The ITC is an important court venue for Qualcomm, as it sought a ban on the import of all iPhones that were found to infringe on its intellectual property. However, Pender recommended against a ban in his ruling, saying it would be against public interest. The full ITC Commission is expected to finish its review of the case on March 26.
Other court decisions in the coming months could point to an end for the multi-year legal battle between the two companies. But if the courts rule in Apple’s favor, it could also pose a big challenge for Qualcomm’s licensing business, which brings in a significant chunk of the company’s revenue.
Qualcomm has two more important legal milestones to watch: The company wrapped up closing arguments last month in the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust trial against Qualcomm. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has yet to announce the verdict.
Next month, Apple and Qualcomm will go to court again in San Diego, for a trial over Qualcomm’s licensing fees.